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Dateline: 12th February, 2008

The exterior of the Arcola Theatre

The Arcola Goes Green

The Arcola in Dalston has installed a hydrogen fuel cell to power its café/bar and selected main house shows. The fuel cell operates almost silently, producing nothing but electricity and clean water. The 5kW fuel cell system takes pride of place in the foyer of the theatre accompanied by displays describing the benefits and challenges posed by this ground breaking technology. The prominent location of the fuel cell and the challenge of relying entirely upon it provide both a powerful educational tool and a source of motivation for reducing energy use.

The first show to be powered by the fuel cell, Simple8’s The Living Unknown Soldier, produced by Strawberry Vale, may well be London’s premier ecologically sustainable show – the environmental impact of all aspects of the production have been minimised, including set construction, marketing, company travel and show lighting. The production’s environmental footprint will be evaluated by leading sustainability advisors Global Action Plan and the lessons learned published for the benefit of other practitioners.

The lighting for the show has a peak power consumption of 4.5kW, up to 60% less than comparable lighting installations. This is made possible though extensive use of LED lighting, provided by leading lighting supplier White Light, and careful use of high efficiency tungsten lamps provided by ETC, maker of the popular energy saving Source Four luminaire.

In addition Arcola’s bar/café has been upgraded to an eco-bar serving organic and fair-trade refreshments, illuminated by a low energy LED lighting system supplied by leading manufacturer PixelRange. The lighting for the entire café/bar now consumes under 500 watts, a saving of 60%, with the added benefit of providing near infinite flexibility in light level and colour for perfect daytime operation as well as for café/bar performances.

The fuel cell will start operation on Tuesday 12th February, the opening night of The Living Unknown Soldier.

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©Peter Lathan 2008